A team from Richmond, Virginia, USA, will be pioneering an autism training program for mothers of autistic children in Jenin, West Bank, Palestine. The team will be led by Melissa Diamond who is the Founder and Director of The Jenin Autism Project
Melissa established ‘A Global Voice for Autism‘ after learning about the lack of services available to autistic children in the West Bank area.
Melissa Diamond is a Peace and Conflict major at the University of Richmond with minors in Women’s Studies and Healthcare and Society. She wanted to empower communities to support these children.
A Global Voice for Autism (AGVFA) is described on the Jenin Autism Project website:
‘(AGVFA) provides basic autism services in communities where these services are not available through education, support groups and parent training.’
AGVFA empower the community by training mothers in Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) and helps to teach skills to be able to run a cooperative program.
In the co operative mothers provide ABA treatment to others children while other mothers in the co operative provide ABA treatment to their child.
Talking exclusively to Autism Daily Newscast Melissa told us that the funds have now been raised and that the program to deliver training to mothers with autistic children living in Jenin will be hosted in the Jenin Creative Cultural Center.
The website explains why Jenin had been chosen as the location of the project:
‘Population of 39,000 with an above average rate of autism (Research by Trefor Lloyd) Previous autism center closed due to lack of trained professionals and no funding, Education is needed to support stigma surrounding autism’
There are 13 families enrolled in the project. The team left for Jenin on January 1. The team will be blogging during their journey to Jenin and then while running the project.
‘Throughout the course of the program we will be updating this blog regularly so please check back for updates and spread the word. Autism has no borders and this is just the beginning of A Global Voice for Autism’s vision. ‘
Melissa explained more about the project:
“The parents will come to the center for 5 hours a week to receive ABA training and for an hour-long parent support group. As the program progresses, training time will transition into implementation time where parents will run ABA skills with each others’ children and will continue to come to the center to do so for 5 hours a week.”
Melissa explained that at the end of the 3 months the mothers involved in the program will train a new set of mothers in ABA therapy so that they can be brought into the program.
As well as supporting the children and mothers the siblings of autistic children will also receive support from the project. Melissa told us:
“Neha Siddiqui ( sibling support coordinator) designed a curriculum for the sibling support program which will be run by myself and ABA therapist Katrina Walker”
These will be weekly sessions with the children and they wil happen during the time of the parent support group.
You can read more about the Jenin Autism Project on their website http://thejeninautismproject.wordpress.com/the-jenin-autism-project-team/
You can follow their blog here